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Julie Watson of The Associated Press reports Jan.27 in the Sacramento Bee that  nine public school students are suing the state over laws on teacher tenure and seniority which really means that the usual anti union corporate machine has launched a new front in the war on teachers.  See
These students ( or their parents)  want to invalidate a series of current laws which protect teachers from political interference. Their campaign foci just happen to co-inside with campaigns of a variety of the usual corporate suspects from Michellle Rhee, the Waltons, Students First, Democrats for Educational Reform, and other well financed political action committees.
However, as we learned in the campaign against bi-lingual education ( Prop.227 in 1996), parent and student front groups can provide an effective campaign strategy. A law suite designed for publicity was an important element in the abolition of bilingual education for the children of California.  It will be difficult to get past the framing of the AP article to real issues

For example, one of the parents is listed as saying that her child did not learn to read until 3rd. grade.  Something we would all be concerned about, but it is not clearly connected to teacher tenure and seniority.
More likely, the child was disadvantaged by large class sizes,  California’s over crowded classrooms,  and the budget cuts of the recent economic crisis.   Or, it may have been because the child did not respond well to the tightly organized scripted reading lessons now required in most classrooms. Reading resource teachers prepared to assist children falling behind were eliminated from most California classrooms in a long series of budget cuts.

The AP article says that parents argue that school failure was created because teachers can’t be fired- they are protected by tenure.  Not true.  Teachers can be dismissed for cause after being given due process hearings.  It does require administrative time to document and to act upon unprofessional behavior. In many districts (not all) the administrators do not have the time and the resources to evaluate teachers and to document failure. Or, they chose to use their limited time and resources on other issues, such as repairing broken windows.
There are real problems in schools and they should be addressed.  There are many available ways to improve schools and student achievement.  Among them are:
1.     adequately fund the schools.
2.     reduce class sizes
3.     provide reading specialists, counselors, librarians
4.     fund district programs to supplement district actions against poor quality teaching.
These, and other school improvement strategies are available.  An assault on teacher tenure is instead a divisive attack on teacher integrity and professionalism.
Why do you suppose these parents recruited their children to use the process least likely to succeed in improving school experiences?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Eli Broad. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    happymisanthropy, RiveroftheWest

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 03:16:31 PM PST

  •  To learn more about this, I highly recommend (8+ / 0-)

    some more 'in the weeds' articles from EdSource Today:

    In there, you'll find nuggets like that one of the teachers explicitly named in the suit as being "ineffective" according to one of the kids was Los Angeles County Teacher of the Year last year.

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 03:53:47 PM PST

    •  Well, a teacher is usually deemed ineffective (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jbsoul, quill, vahana, RiveroftheWest, IamGumby

      when the child fails.

      I always remember what an Asian immigrant said after a student complained that a test was too hard. She said " I don't understand why in this country when a student fails everyone asks what is wrong with the teacher. In my country when a student fails, people ask what is wrong with the student."
      Certainly, there are plenty of bad teachers, just like there are good and bad doctors and cops. What this has to do with tenure is difficult to understand. Generally, a more experienced teacher is a more effective teacher. When a professional basketball team is struggling, they don't try to dump everyone with experience playing basketball in favor of those with little or no experience.

      When crime goes up, we don't blame the cops, When the forest is dry and burns we don't curse the firefighters.

      Enough of the hating on teachers, experienced or rookies.

      Really, this is more about union busting than anything. The corporatists will eventually privatize education to the detriment of our nation.

      Thanks for the well reasoned diary!

      •  Apparently from the Christian Science article, it (0+ / 0-)

        only takes 18 months to get tenure. If true, that's not exactly what I call experienced.

        Also some long term teachers (as in other professions) get stale, cynical and/or bored with teaching the same thing every year.

        I had a friend who got her MA in teaching over several summers of extra classes. It did raise her salary, but seemed to have little effect on her teaching skills or knowledge of subject.

        My main gripe with the teaching profession is that it once was a bastion for highly educated and bright women who had very little options to apply their skills.

        Today these same bright women  are free to become doctors, lawyer and executives. They are no longer as restricted in where they can apply their talents.

        Today many who enter teaching are not of the same caliber. I know this is a harsh assessment. Most mean well and do their best. I acknowledge that teachers are only a small part of the problem.

        Parents and kids themselves have a lot to answer for. Our society as a whole also shoulders much of the blame.

        It’s the Supreme Court, stupid! Followed by: It's always the Supreme Court! Progressives will win only when we convince a majority that they, too, are Progressive.

        by auapplemac on Wed Jan 29, 2014 at 11:10:30 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, we do scrape the bottom of the barrel (0+ / 0-)

          when it comes to teachers. Education is easy to get into - we take low grades and scores because we don't expect much from teachers.
          Norway on the other hand, pays their teachers almost as well as their doctors and they respect education. They are all unionized. You get what you pay for. Removing tenure will not improve the applicant pool. The job can be demanding, especially in fields like math where it is hard to compete with the private sector. But if we want the best and the brightest, we must pay for it. We don't.

          Here, we believe those who can, do. Those who can't, teach. We don't treat teachers with respect, not even those that have earned it.

    •  sources (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Thank you for the resources.

  •  Not learn to read until the 3rd grade? (6+ / 0-)

    Where were the parents? My first child was an early reader, at age 4. My twins were delayed. However, my wife and I, the parents, continued to work with them, and work with them. The teacher has very little to do with reading. The parents are the teachers there. They should be reading to that child, from age 0 on.

    I blame the mom. It's a shameful thing to admit that YOU the parent has totally failed if your child cannot read by Grade 3.

  •  ..not reading by the 3rd grade (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Just an aside.  If the parent/s can't read that's one thing.  But if the parent can read and their child can't read by the 3rd grade it's a parent issue and not a school issue.  

    There is no good reason why by the age of 4 or 5, children with reading parent/s, should not be on the way to dyslexia/sight disorders. Bottom line: school is not a learning to read prerequisite.  

    Alas, reading should be a making babies prerequisite.  

  •  I would sure like to meet the parents (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RiveroftheWest, auapplemac

    who didn't know their kid couldn't read until their precious spawn reached the 3rd grade. I'd give them an earful and then tell them where to shove their fucking lawsuit. Parents who abdicate their role in their child's education and social development are the first ones to go looking for scapegoats when their kids fail.

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